This volume completes Bible scholar Michael V. Fox’s comprehensive commentary on the book of Proverbs in the Anchor Yale series. Fox translates and explains in accessible language the meaning and literary qualities of the sayings and poems that comprise the final chapters.
He gives special attention to comparable sayings in other wisdom books, particularly from Egypt, and makes extensive use of medieval Hebrew commentaries, which have received scant attention in previous Proverbs commentaries. In separate sections set in smaller type, the author addresses technical issues of text and language for interested scholars.
The author’s essays at the end of the commentary view the book of Proverbs in its entirety and investigate its ideas of wisdom, ethics, revelation, and knowledge. Out of Proverbs’ great variety of sayings from different times, Fox shows, there emerges a unified vision of life, its obligations, and its potentials.
“The book of Proverbs is devoted to cultivating wise men. Throughout it addresses men’s concerns (such as avoiding promiscuous women), and the wise people it describes are almost all men. Now it concludes by describing a wise woman, but this too is a man’s concern. The poem praises her capabilities in bringing income into the home, caring for her household, showing charity to the poor, speaking wisdom and kindness, and living in fear of God.” (Pages 889–890)
“It is the modest who possess real wisdom, and (as the contrast with the A-line indicates) they will enjoy the very blessing they do not demand: honor.” (Page 531)
“Agur takes the rhetorical pose of the most ignorant of men in order to exalt a different form of wisdom—the knowledge of God’s word—and also to promote the piety that comes from keen consciousness of human deficiencies.” (Page 861)
“The point is rather that the Woman of Strength is truly priceless: Money cannot buy her; she is off the scale of monetary value.” (Page 892)
“This advice is grounded in the principles of the preceding two proverbs: humans are limited and God is in control” (Page 610)
Michael V. Fox is Halls-Bascom Professor in the Department of Hebrew and Semitic studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. After rabbinical studies and ordination at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, he trained in Bible studies, Semitics, and Egyptology, receiving his PhD at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Among his numerous works on wisdom literature and other aspects of biblical literature, he has contributed numerous articles to The Journal of Biblical Literature, authored the volume on Ecclesiastes in The JPS Bible Commentary, and wrote Proverbs 1–9.